Seoul Friday – Saturday

Sunny Seoul was great for shopping, strolling, sightseeing, and sampling. We walked back streets, found cafes and restaurants, checked out the 63 Building and the SkyArt Gallery, the Yongsan Electronics Market, Dongdaemun Market, Gwangjang Market, and Cheongyechong stream walkway. We are feeling a bit sad that we have to leave tomorrow as this has been one great week of seeing our son Chris, and getting a spring vacation in a country that is very enjoyable to visit. We can see why he likes living in Korea.

Although Korea has become successful the hardships it has gone through are not from mind either. We visited the War Memorial Museum that tells the story of ancient Korean kingdoms and major battles, has a great replica turtle ship on display but provides the somber history of the Korean War in displays, dioramas, and short multimedia presentations that are spaced throughout the exhibit area. Outside are many war planes, tanks and other vehicles on display. The sculptures at the entrance of the grounds capture a sense of the bravery, tragedy, and determination of the Korean people to persevere during the conflict.

We felt some of the tension with North Korea following the Cheonan ship sinking in late March and more recent findings that point to an external enemy source for the explosion and deaths of 46 South Korean sailors (58 were rescued). When we arrived at Sejong Cultural Center to ask the ticket office about the memorial concerts to be held Friday and Saturday we learned they were sold out (probably within minutes after the annoucement ran in the papers). The proceeds from the Saturday concert were donated to the families of the victims. At  the same time that the memorial concerts were held inside the Sejong Music Hall there was an outdoor multicultural Spring Festival in front of City Hall a few blocks away. Here the many international communities that are present in Seoul gathered to show how peaceful intercultural relations can be sustained. It seems it will still be some time before the two Koreas can overcome the disfunctional relationship that began after World War II and was not resolved via the Korean War. Since war did not work why not try something else.

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